You want me to do what?”
Buffy rolled her eyes at Willow. “I want you to help me fix this. I know you can do it – remember what I said before Glory and the Tower?”
Willow’s face blanched at the memory of Buffy falling; her limp dead form was something that still crept into her nightmares and scared her awake. But she also remembered the massive ego boost Buffy’d given her that night; it had been what fuelled her during those dark hours researching the resurrection spell. “I’m your Big Gun,” she whispered.
“Exactly, so I need the Big Gunny magicness that is you.” Buffy frowned down at Willow, astonished by her reluctance. She’d figured the challenge of the spell that she wanted would’ve had Willow in motion by now.
“But you and the others said magic was bad.” Willow stared in shock at Buffy’s sudden change in attitude. She had been so excited when her friend had called asking her over, but now she felt weird and ookey.
Buffy stared at Willow angrily, frustration lines etched over her too thin face. After she’d called her best friend, she’d gone upstairs to wash up and dress for slayage action. There was no way Willow was going to get out of helping her.
Willow looked around the front room trying to see where Tara might be; she figured that her darling wouldn’t know about Buffy’s magical demands. “Where’s Tara?” She so hoped she was upstairs studying or something. She missed Tara so much and when Buffy’d called she had leapt on the chance to come round. Barely listening to Buffy’s voice, she said ‘yeah’ and slammed the phone down. Now she wished she’d listened.
Buffy stood and began pacing back and forth. Willow’s eyebrows shot up in startling similarity to a certain dusty vamp. “Ummm, Buffy, are you okay? You look kinda haggard.” Willow slapped her hand to her mouth instantly, wishing that she could take back her indiscrete comment.
“Gee Willow, I wonder why?” Buffy propped her hands on her hips and cocked her head. She was getting frustrated with Willow’s reluctance. ‘Usually it was a ‘spell? Sure, how many? When? Where? Oh I can fix that with a quick incantation.’ Suddenly it was all with the why? Why? And I dunno’s.
“Buffy? Maybe you should, you know, sit down and chill for a sec?” Willow squeaked around her hands. She realised that what she was seeing in her friend was pure Slayer tainted with more that a bit of desperation. “Shall I get Dawn? Or, oh Tara?” she added, congratulating herself on her sneakiness with the finding out where Tara was without having to ask straight out and embarrass herself.
Buffy’s jaw dropped at Willow’s tactlessness.
Willow shrank back on the couch and stared at Buffy like a rabbit trapped in headlights.
“You’re kidding, right?” Buffy snapped out.
“Huh?” Willow’s face clouded with confusion.
“Social Services got Dad to come take Dawn away,” Buffy growled, her temper rapidly heading for ‘I am gonna shake you till your teeth rattle in your hollow head’.
Willow’s pale face softened in sympathy and she hesitantly reached out a hand towards Buffy. “Oh honey, I am so sorry…” she trailed off, unhappily aware that her words were not enough to ease the gaping of pain that showed in Buffy’s red-rimmed eyes. She folded her shaking hands in her lap and wondered what she could do to help, to get Dawn back home.
“And Tara’s away on a field trip, which is why you have until tomorrow to work this out,” Buffy added impatiently. “We need to do this before she gets back.”
Willow shook her head nervously. After casting that spell on her grades, Mom and Dad, she was feeling really guilty and bad. She didn’t like feeling bad – it made her tummy ache and squishy feelings had made themselves known. “I can’t.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed. She was so far gone in her grief that she didn’t care. She wanted everything back to normal; it had all changed when Teeth’s goons had dusted Spike, so that was what she was fixing. Then Buffy hoped everything else would fall into place. She eyed the huddled form of Willow with little compassion; it had all drained out of her when Dawn had been torn from her clinging arms. She had nothing left to lose.
“Buffy?” Willow eyed the front door longingly. She wanted to go home – to get away from the hungry desperation that was in Buffy’s eyes and hide under the covers until everything went away. “Eep.” She jerked back as Buffy leaned over, grabbed hold of her forearms and shook her. Her red hair flew all over her face and her teeth clicked together. The bruising force of Buffy’s claw like fingers bit into her soft flesh. Willow pulled against her hold, trying futilely to pull free.
“Willow, you owe me,” Buffy growled, spit flying into Willow’s face.
She looked up at Buffy in confusion, “Huh?”
“Remember Heaven? You with the witchy ‘I’m so right. I’ll get Buffy back’. Pulled me from eternal peace and happiness. Remember?” Buffy snarled. She knew that her melting down and resorting to blackmail was wrong but she was past caring. Everything that had happened to her had led to this; no one would’ve coped with what she had suffered through.
“Buffy, no – don’t.” Willow’s eyes filled with guilty tears. “I’m sooooo sorry.” Her voice took on a nasally whine as she pulled at Buffy wrists.
“Sorry doesn’t cut it, Wills. I need the spell and you so do owe me!” Buffy rasped angrily, giving Willow another good shake.
“No, I swore off the magic. After Mom and Dad I said no more. It’s wrong.”
“Mom and Dad? What did you do to them?” Buffy’s mind raced. It sounded like something she could use as more leverage-- seeing that the whole Heaven thing wasn’t budging Willow. And then her frantic mind latched onto the one thing she knew would make Willow do the casting.
“Ummm, Buffy, you’re really freaking me.” Willow was starting to sweat and the calculating look in Buffy’s eyes made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She was starting to wonder if Spike’s dusting was as good a thing as she and Xander had initially thought. From the way Buffy was behaving, Willow wondered if Spike might’ve been the one thing that was stopping Buffy from going nuts.
“If you do this for me, I won’t tell Tara you cast a spell on your parents.” Buffy’s offer was chilling. Her voice was icy calm and her eyes filled with a maliciousness that reminded Willow of Cordy in High School. She shivered at the implication of Buffy’s threat; if Tara found out, she’d never forgive her.
“Buffy, lemme go and stop with the scary slayer routine, ” Willow whispered as a real fear took hold in her heart.
She wriggled against the iron hold and felt her skin bruise a bit more. “You’re really, really hurting me!” she exclaimed with a pain filled voice. All the power had fled from her in the face of the assault from her closest friend. Willow’s lips trembled and tears ran down her face.
A small part of Buffy heard Willow’s tears and was sickened, but it was suppressed under the need for something to be done. She needed so badly to take back control of her life, and part of that control had gone when she let Spike die. She was not backing down in the face of a few tears, Buffy was stronger than that. She’d faced so much and fought so hard that there was no way Willow would be able to deny her.
“Ow, you’re hurting me,” Willow sobbed. Her bow shaped lips quivered as she sucked in air to calm herself in the face of the implacable onslaught of Buffy’s demands. Part of her was sickened by the offer Buffy made and another part was tempted.
“Willow, look at me,” Buffy ordered calmly. She loosened her grip slightly so that Willow could focus on her.
Willow sniffled and used her shoulder to blot her face, “Buffy, please let me go, you’re really scaring me now.”
“I will, but only if you do what I asked.” Buffy paused and took a deep breath and then pulled out her final and most devastating bargaining tool. Sending a mental apology to Tara, she pressed on. “If you do this, I’ll help you get back with Tara.”
Before she had finished uttering her false promise, Willow’s hands loosened on her wrists. Her eyes darkened to black and a smile curved her tear soaked lips.
“I’ll do it.”
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